Top 5 Games of 2015

2015 is in the books here are my (with some help from Jord) top 5 games of 2015 (primarily on xbox)

5. Halo 5: Guardians

Halo 5 just about warrants a spot on this list, particularly with the addition of forge being added in recently. The campaign I felt was more gripping than I expected and the multiplayer was ok but definitely needed more maps and game modes available to it (why can’t griff ball be on there?)

4. Star Wars Battlefront

Star Wars Battlefront gripped me straight away with amazing gameplay, graphics and sounds. If there was more content in Battlefront like the old games then we it could have been fighting for the number 1 spot. Until EA get a grip of themselves, stop making games to make large profits and make a game for the gamers. (its still pretty good for a money grabber though!)

3. Rare Replay

You get 30 games for the half the price of a new game, some of them you will never play but some of them like Banjo Kazooie and Perfect Dark are the greatest games ever made. There’s some very old arcade games which are near impossible, even with rewind! So if you used to play in arcades in the 80’s and wondered what happens after the first level in some games then Rare replay is the game for you.

2. Rainbow Six Siege

Possibly one of the most intense shooters you will ever play, Rainbow Six Siege completely changed from the previous Vegas games and became more of an standard FPS with tactics and slow gameplay making it extremely gripping and a must play! Please note that this game is best played with at least 2 other friends so you can co-ordinate attacks.

1. Fallout 4

Could it possibly be anything else? Fallout 4 reached its hype well with a huge map and seemingly endless distractions. Play this fast and apparently you can complete the main story in 2 hours. Play this like anyone else would and your game time will easily be into multiple days. If you haven’t played Fallout 4 yet, where have you been?

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Previous Blog: Star Wars Battlefront

The Problem with Star Wars Battlefront

Star Wars Battlefront came with such a huge amount of hype, the rebirth of the old Battlefront games but with a new developer, Dice and the backing of… EA… Yay…

For starters, EA probably started the development of Battlefront knowing two things;

  1. The game would sell purely based on the name ‘Star Wars Battlefront’ no matter if the game was good or not
  2. DLC was a must because that’s how games are developed in the modern era especially EA games.

The old Battlefront games were great because of the large scale combat, the amount of variation between maps/planets and character choice. EA were clever to aim at the large scale combat aspect as on large game modes the amount of action going on is spectacular and the sound is spot on! Blasters sound exactly like the movies, the sound of an AT-AT walker is pretty scary when you’re close and then there’s the thermal imploder! Even the gameplay is excellent (once you get used to the shot lead) and most things feel tight and well thought through, except for flying, which feels very simplified. I understand why they didn’t over complicate flying like it is in Battlefield, everyone stands a chance when flying which is good, but you feel that battles are based on luck rather than skill 70% of the time.

The issue with this Battlefront is not the gameplay, that is definitely the strong point! The issue with Battlefront is the issue that a lot of games are starting to have now, they are extremely thin on content or good content at least. Battlefront came with 4 planets at release and since has increased to 5 planets with the addition of the battle of Jakku. 5 whole planets may sound like a lot, but there are only 3 maps per planet(1 large, 1 small and 1 flying maps per planet) , you will be very unlikely to play the small ones very often if like me you stick to walker assault. If you plan on playing walker assault and nothing else then be prepared to play the grand total of 5 maps, yes they are large, but the games move at the exact same pace due to the AT-AT walkers being on set paths, eventually you will get very bored of the map rotation. The flying maps are ok, but they could have easily been in space and would have probably saved Dice some time in the design room. I rarely play the small maps as Battlefront games are meant to be played as large scale games! That’s how Battlefront 1 and 2 worked and that is what I expected this time around.

What happened to Galactic conquest? Playing against AI with a friend? Space Battles? Clone Wars? Special classes? Some of the key aspects that made the old Battlefronts fun have been ignored. Walker assault is a cool concept but gets dull quickly. I like being able to pick my gun and abilities, but having variations of classes created genuine tactical advantages and disadvantages, plus the homing rocket sucks! Galactic conquest was literally the best mode of the old Battlefronts, imagine doing an online galactic conquest! That would have been awesome!

Star Wars Battlefront doesn’t really deserve its name, Battlefront was great and expansive and had lots to do! The new Battlefront is a perfect EA game, an unfinished money grab game that uses the Star Wars name to its advantage. Yes Battlefront does have moments of sheer brilliance, and it has recreated a very small amount of the Star Wars universe brilliantly, but if Battlefront was not Star Wars the game wouldn’t even profit, but due to the Star Wars hype that exists at the moment EA have undeservedly lucked into a winner.

EA’s new Star wars Battlefront is like the prequel trilogy of films, it carries the same name but it does not reach the same level of awesomeness as the originals.

Don’t buy the DLC

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Previous Blog: Rainbow Six Siege Review

 

Rainbow Six Siege Review

Rainbow Six Siege has released, one of the best franchises returns with quite a different look, it’s gone through vigorous testing after having one closed alpha and two closed beta’s which essentially turned into open beta’s and the result is pretty damn good.

It must be said straight away, Rainbow Six Siege is best enjoyed with friends, you can play with strangers in multiplayer and you can do the ten situations or terrorist hunts alone as well, but eventually you will be frustrated by poor team mates and you will likely feel like there is a lack of depth to the game. Rainbow Six Siege comes alive when teamwork is used, which means you need some friends buddy! It’s not a bad game when played alone, but the lack of communication due to random team-mates being in private parties are not having microphones plugged in take away the tactical teamwork aspect of the game, which is the most important aspect.

The Rainbow Six Siege is no where near the best looking game, it’s quite blocky and textures look closer to the previous generation than this current generation, where Siege makes up for this is the catastrophic destruction that can be caused to each map, a perfectly good house can go from a pretty perfect family home to looking more like a building site very quickly as walls are floors/ceilings are blown to pieces leaving just the bare bones of the house. It is wonderful and can completely change how the game is being played, suddenly a safe place in a room becomes alarmingly exposed leaving you with a choice of moving into gunfire or staying put and potentially being hunted down.

Everything you do in Siege carries a consequence, if you move somewhere you make noise and alert the enemy that you are nearby, shoot through a wall and expect bullets to come straight back at you, blow up a window or wall… you get the idea. This is why you need team-mates, to coordinate your attack and hopefully catch your enemy unaware, believe me, if two or three breaches happen at the same time, as a defender you will feel disoriented as shrapnel and wood fly around and you have to choose where to look (which is where communication helps!).

Rainbow Six Siege does not have a proper single player campaign, but it does come with Rainbow Six Vegas 1 and 2 which slightly makes up for it, aswell as the situations which bring a good hour of gaming which leads to Article 5 (find out about that yourself). The content of the game may be a little slim, 10 maps and no campaign seems like a rip off but remember, all the DLC for at least a year will be free so Rainbow Six Siege has a chance of doubling in size in a years time.

Controls of a first person shooter game are rarely much to shout about, Rainbow Six Siege is no different, its your basic controls with leaning added to the mix, which is a must if you want to survive. Something to note, the settings have thumbstick deadzone settings, you will want to probably bring your right thumbstick deadzone down to 5 from 10, it makes the game feel much less sluggish

The sounds of Siege are incredible! Theres something unnerving as a defender when you are in a room and you can hear footsteps above you, outside rappelling the wall or outside the door, the intensity it brings is fantastic and I guess thats what Siege really brings to the table. Unlike Cod and other first person shooters, Siege doesn’t need to be constantly engaged in fire fights to have a good time, the thrill of setting up defenses, searching for a bomb/hostage, talking tactics with your team keeps you engaged the whole time,  and when you’re dead, look at cameras and relay enemy positions, you are never truly out of the game.

Rainbow Six Siege takes an idea of a counter terrorism game, and makes one of the best first person shooter experiences in recent memory, the gameplay feels so fresh and the game modes are so intense that its a must buy if you can get your friends together to play it. On the flip side, playing alone is pretty terrible and makes the game feel pretty poor, its a game purely dependant on your friends and communication, which makes for a very different game!

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Previous Blog: Call of Duty Black Ops 3 Review

Call of Duty Black Ops 3 Review

Call of Duty Black Ops 3 is really a tale of 2 games, there’s the online multiplayer and zombies and the single player campaign, one has resurged like a phoenix from flames whereas the other has burnt to a crisp in the same fire.

I’ve been very sceptical of Call of Duty games sprouting out the same game but adding a gimmick here and there to keep us interested, Advanced Warfare fell flat on its face and probably ranks as my least favourite Call of Duty to ever be made. The gimmicks for Black Ops 3 were kept relatively short, I was worried about the game keeping the jump packs in, and to be fair I still don’t like the extra boost still but it’s not as bad. The wall running isn’t too much of an issue either, normally because killing someone who is wall running is either than killing someone whilst wall running, it just creates a small wrinkle in the way of getting around maps, its fun!

NOTE: There are four free run maps created for time trials, they only take about 15 minutes in total, but they give some friendly competition on Call of Duty without shooting each other.

The multiplayer is fun and varied enough to keep most players coming back, my only issue is the feeling of a lack of maps and the balance of some weapons… mainly the M8. The weapon balance will be changed with updates and feedback so that’s not a major problem, the lack of maps can only be solved by throwing extra money into the game in the form of a season pass, are the extra maps worth the money? Maybe, if there weren’t going to be remakes thrown into the mix. On the actual gameplay front of Black Ops 3, the ranking system feels like a mix between Black Ops 2 for the weapons and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare for the actual ranks, you won’t fly through ranks like before, it will take a decent amount of time to rank up each time, especially through rank 50 to 55.

Call of Duty Zombies has had a great revival. Treyarch, the master of zombies has created a very complex zombies this time, it has a great old school jazzy vibe with four new protagonists (play it on single player first to get some backdrop on their stories). The basics of this zombies is to find items related to each character, past that point I can’t tell you what happens, one reason is for spoilers and the other is because this zombies seems much harder than zombies on previous Black Ops games. There is a lot of similarity to Mob of the Dead in the way that you must power perk machines by using another form, like the ghost.

The single player isn’t worth mentioning, its unmemorable and pretty dull. The addition of realistic is horrible and will make anyone want to break the most expensive thing in their house! Literally 1 shot and you are dead! Co-op can make the worst games fun however, this can be true with this Call of Duty depending on who you play with, I would prefer the game to have three or four more multiplayer maps or another zombie over the campaign, it’s that weak!

If you have gone away from Call of Duty and you are looking to have a go again, this is the Call of Duty for you! The gameplay feels like Black Ops, the jump packs aren’t as annoying as they were in Advanced warfare and the zombies will keep you challenged for a long time! It should have had sticks and stones though!

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Previous Blog: Rainbow Six Siege Beta

Rainbow Six Siege

Out with the old and in with the new, that’s what Ubisoft have done with a complete overhaul of the Rainbow Six series.

Gone are the days of the Rainbow Six cover system and in comes the more familiar first person shooter feel with a more simple and standard aim down the sight system. Don’t be put of by the game going towards the normal FPS control system though, Rainbow Six Siege has an excellent game mode style similar to Search and Destroy. The beta only carried two multilayer game modes, as well as terrorist hunt for a bit of a co-op variety, accompany this with 3 maps and amazingly after a week and a half of solid playing, I still want to play more!

The multiplayer mode is brilliant and builds on other game types from other games. As I said, it is similar to Search and Destroy from Call of Duty but unlike Call of duty, the bomb sites are not static and you are attempting to diffuse the bombs instead of destroying a cache. A rather unique way to start the game is by using the drones, the attackers are forced to search the building whilst the defending team prepares their defences and attempts to hide the bomb. This adds a pleasurable beginning and surprisingly intense start as you scramble around the building as quickly as possible.

Rainbow Six Siege requires a slow gameplay, run around everywhere with speed and you might as well surrender before the game either begins. Teamwork is the key, along with using operators abilities to the maximum to make the perfect siege/defence.

Rainbow Six operators have a good variety of abilities, there will most likely be a class that suites you perfectly, especially as more will be added at the full release! My only issue with the operators are the shield classes, it seems nearly impossible to take on one head to head, which in fairness is how it should be, but it is just frustrating!

Finally terrorist hunt, its much easier with 5 people when you try realistic but even hard is quite hard (surprising!). I found the AI to be much improved for Rainbow Six Siege, a welcomed upgrade over the Rainbow Six Vegas terrorist hunt AI. You will feel rushed and pressured a lot during terrorist hunts as the AI vary between hiding and full out attack, you must also be very wary of the bomber who will come out of nowhere and suicide bomb you, yes you read that correctly. The intensity of terrorist hunt ensures that even when you don’t want to play online, Rainbow Six Siege has plenty to offer offline too.

Rainbow Six Siege has made a great improvement to gameplay over the previous games, its more fun, easy to play and hard to master, the way a game should be. I played the beta for a week and a half pretty solidly with only 3 maps, so the full release having 10 maps and then free DLC means Rainbow Six Siege should be a must have this Christmas Season.

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Previous Blog: GTA Freemode Events

GTA Freemode Events

Rockstar have improved GTA online immensely by adding GTA freemode events! I understand that these new events won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but concept behind them is sound and it adds another wrinkle to an online that seems to only get more and more content!

I was surprised by the amount of people who will actually play the freemode events, the first event I played was a king of the hill type event and it eventually became so crowded that the game was won by the first person who arrived at the hill. Annoying end in one sense? Yes, but the fun didn’t end there, as all the players who arrived at the event stuck around for some good old fashioned shooting. Things like this rarely happened before the freemode events, I felt that the Rockstar have done a good job adding more opportunities for big firefights.

There are over 10 freemode events available, from king of the castle to hunt the beast, alongside this Rockstar have added freemode challenges which pitches you against the whole freemode lobby to achieve the best score, the challenge can be from the longest jump, the most near misses in a row to surviving the largest fall. As well as new additions to freemode, there are 2 new adversary modes, Hunting pack is a game type similar to cat and mouse from the Project Gotham games, the hunters have to slow the mouse for a few seconds to get it to explode, thing of this like the Movie Speed. The mouse is usually in a much larger vehicle like an armored truck whilst the hunters are in light sports cars, it creates a great challenging game. The other new game mode is called cross the line. This game mode requires one team to cross the neutral zone and get to the opposing teams territory. This game sounds good on paper and could be either brilliant or a fail as team mates could potentially troll.

GTA online seems to be an ever expanding online giant, Rockstar have been rumored to have stopped or slowed work on single player DLC to continue work on the online aspect of GTA V. I would like to see another story for GTA V, there was so much in the normal game that they must have planned something pre release, I’m sure we will see something soon!

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Previous Blog: From Video game to Movie

From Video Game to Movie

Video games are slowly but surely becoming movies more often now, or at least live action. It’s a pretty cool step for the gaming industry, growing and expanding into new industries is a great way to ensure developers keep going (and only the good ones will get movies too!).

Gearbox are fun developers, you may be able to tell from their Borderlands game that they can make great games, but they have a knack of making them funny with great gameplay and story to go alongside it, it’s in your face funny and out right ridiculous at times. A movie will really help the franchise grow, we may possibly delve into more depth of some of the characters, who will play the roles of the supporting cast? There are some questions that need to be answered well, but that will be for the screen writers to deal with.

Another noteworthy game that became a short series is Halo, with Forward unto Dawn. Halo has always seems to always be surrounded by movie rumours, and why not? The story of the games (for Halo 1, 2, 3 and Reach) were brilliant, the second trilogy is yet to make too much impact with where its going, it could flop but I’m hoping it won’t!

What people must remember is that games are basically interactive movies, you play the starring role (on most occasions) and you must play a tracked storyline, or create your own story in cases like the Elder Scrolls. Games have become even more interactive in this sense since the creation of TellTale Games. TellTale games are the ultimate interactive story, the cross between watching and playing, you change the story ever so slightly with decisions and it brings your further into the game than any other game can, its such a simple idea but it is hard to execute as the story must be good.

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Previous Blog: Is Splitscreen Dying?

Is Splitscreen Dying?

Remember the time when almost every game had a splitscreen option? Some even had bots to play against so you and a friend could either run over all the bots or get smashed, there wasn’t really an inbetween for difficulties!

 

Splitscreen gaming is something most gamers who experienced the original Xbox and Playstation 2 and all consoles prior. There were some games that were splitscreen on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, but they were more like afterthoughts in an online dominated era. There are actually very few decent split screen co-op games, you could only really find online co-op games, particularly towards the end of the Xbox 360/Playstation 3 era.

Halo has classically been known as a splitscreen game, there has always been at least 2 player splitscreen available on every game and 4 player splitscreen multiplayer. Your friends could even play as a guest online via splitscreen, this was how I got into online gaming with Halo 2. Halo 5: Guardians has been announced as having no splitscreen in any mode at all! This goes against all Halo FPS tradition, but, at least there is an option for online co-op and online multiplayer will as always be included, just don’t expect to bring your guests along like you would normally.

There will still be some games with decent splitscreen co-op, the new Gears of War games show no signs of not having local co-op and there will no doubt be some indie developers who will notice the gap in the market developing for local co-op games. As has been discovered many times before, the indie developers know how to make great games as they are normally avid gamers themselves. I have faith in the community. I don’t place faith in the world of graphics over gameplay any more though. I’d rather a game be amazing to play rather than amazing to look at, sacrificing splitscreen is not the way forward in gaming.

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Previous Blog: Graphics vs Gameplay

Graphics vs Gameplay

The emphasis of graphics has come to almost overshadow any part of gameplay recently, at least prior to launch, many gamers are roped into a game because it looks incredible, only to find that the game is quite weak at heart.

Graphics are important to a game, but they are not the be all and end all of a game. The first thing anyone will see of a game is graphics, so obviously they do carry some importance to gaining interest, although the amount of games that use non game play trailers is extortionate and creates a false view of the game.

Game play is king when it comes to a game, that’s why games like Pacman and Tetris still get played today! There are probably very few people who have turned around and said, “I wish Pacman looked better”, or “I don’t like Pacman because it looks old”, Pacman works because its an ingenious simple idea that is addictive and fun, like what mobile games have attempted to be, but fail by adding micro transactions. Simple graphics plus effective gameplay make for great games, the most recent example would be Minecraft, its a simple building game, but it captures everyone’s imagination in some way as there is no right or wrong way to play Minecraft. No one cares that the graphics are poor, it creates its own charm, and that is what a lot of games are missing out on now, their own charm, everything wants to look ‘real’.

Just to finish though, I understand that some games basically require nice graphics to immerse you properly, I’m thinking down that lines of Elder Scrolls games where you become a part of the world that you’re in and you feel at home, worse graphics wouldn’t help as its part and parcel with the graphics. Some games like competitive FPS games do not need good graphics, gameplay is king in FPS, for example Counter Strike and Halo 1 and 2 in the Master Chief Collection play brilliantly and don’t look fantastic.

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Previous Blog: Microsoft’s E3

Microsoft E3

Microsoft may have nailed their presentation of E3, from pretty much handing console dominance to Sony 2 years ago Microsoft sure have learnt their lesson and have come out this year all guns blazing! Here’s what I’m looking forward to!

Gears of War, both the Ultimate Edition and 4. I found myself falling out of love from the Gears of War games, I felt that the first two overshadow the last 2, Gears 3 had no replay value for me and then I had no intention of buying judgement. I want to replay the good old days of classic gears of war online, 4v4, one life per round, carnage for the sniper rifle and the inevitable long winded 1v1 that ends the round. Gears made you play the game more tactically, instead of the Call of Duty run and gun, you had to be careful of where you went, a very unique multiplayer that I look forward to playing once again! Gears of War 4 will probably take the franchise back in good direction too, they wouldn’t bring it back if they felt that it would harm the series, at least that’s what I hope for.

Halo 5 and the gameplay from Locke’s fireteam Osiris. I’m very skeptical about Halo 5 taking the gameplay away from Master Chief, I know its been done successfully in the past with Reach and ODST but those games were designed to never needed Master Chief at any point (until the end of reach). Still though, the Halo games are a must purchase for anyone who has played the campaign 1 through to 4 at least, finish the fight, hunt the truth and all that malarkey!

My favorite new game was probably Sea of Theives, me and my friend discussed a lack of a pirate game about a month ago, our prayers have been answered. Little is known about this game, but it looks like it could end up being a gem! Its set to be an MMO pirate game which sounds awesome, on top of that though, there are classic Rare jokes and wonderful looking graphics, keep an eye on this one!

Backwards compatibility for Xbox One came as a bit of an under the radar addition. From the moment the Xbox one and PS4 were announced, there was a general consensus that the consoles lacked a simple backwards compatibility feature, Sony went in first with their expensive version of bringing you old games, Microsoft has outdone them offering your old games, both digital and disc for free (just check the availability list!)

I would add the Hololens into this but I cannot see that being viable for much more than Minecraft at the moment, I hope I’m wrong because the demonstration looked amazing!

My personal highlights from microsoft. I will try to get a blog a day this week. Everything is coming thick and fast though! Have a good e3 everyone!

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Previous Blog: Living in a Video Game

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